This link has probably been everywhere already, but…


…I’m still working to a deadline and can’t afford to keep writing on new topics.


Fat Hatred Kills, Part One
Fat Hatred Kills, Part Two
Fat Hatred Kills, Part Three

(And no, I’m not going to be publishing comments about the wonderful merits of weight loss, this is neither the time nor the place.)

Several years ago my gallbladder was reaching emergency level (early-onset gallbladder disease runs in my family, every woman on my mom’s side has had it) and a gastroenterologist refused to examine me even in a cursory way, and cited my weight as the only real problem. He got a nasty letter from the surgeon later, or at least as nasty a letter as a surgeon can get away with sending. And I’ve seen the same thing happening in terms of purely disability-related prejudice, both to me and other people. Those of us who’ve survived this are the lucky ones. Read the above links.

About Mel Baggs

I am a highly sensing person. I am a child of earth and water, I was born into a redwood forest and I left the forest but it never left me. I'm 34 as I wrote this. If I had an alignment like in role-playing games and MUDs, I'd be chaotic good all the way: I don't think it's possible to fill ethics into a moral code, the world is far too complex for that. I let the world be complex and chaotic and try to respond situation by situation from a small number of principles of right and wrong. My responses may seem to contradict each other, but that will be because either the situation has changed, or I have changed. I am a poet who is trying to practice more every day, hence the poetry blog. I am a cat lover and live with a wonderful elderly cat. I am a painter when I have the time, energy, and resources. I have multiple cognitive, physical, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities, and my health is not usually stable. Put all together, I'd be considered severely disabled. I get a lot of assistance throughout the day. I am a real living cyborg, part human part machine: I have a GJ feeding tube to feed me through one tube and drain my stomach through the other,, an InterStim implant for urinary retention, and a port (a permanent central IV line). I love life. I think Love (not the sentimental emotion, but the property of the world) is the most important thing that human beings can offer each other. Being near death enough times has taught me that, and has also taught me that I have no time for bullies or pettiness. I'm involved in disabilty rights and other causes that people these days would call 'social justice', but I don't consider myself part of the 'SJ community' or the 'anti-SJ community' because of that thing I said about pettiness -- they're more about one-upmanship than fixing the world. I wish they had not taken over the words 'social justice', which used to mean something else. I love talking to just ordinary people about fixing the world, they have far more realistic ideas and more likelihood of putting them into practice. I'm a Hufflepuff to the core, with some Gryffindor tendencies and even a little bit of Ravenclaw. I admire some Slytherins but I don't have much ambition or cunning at all. I still think the Slytherin common room is second best, with Hufflepuff coming first. My favorite color is brown, especially when combined with a bit of yellow or blue. My favorite music is country, and my favorite country artists are Kathy Mattea, Lacy J. Dalton, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge, Merle Haggard, and Loretta Lynn. I don't like most new country but i occasionally hear something on the radio I like. At an early age, my family listened to country almost exclusively to the point where I thought all the different types of country were all the different types of music! I couldn't put Lacy J. Dalton, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson in the same category. Although now that I've grown up I can hear that they are all country, but as a kid my ear was trained more for minute differences in country styles, than for recognizing country from other types of music. Country isn't all I like. Some other bands and artists I like: The Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Rasputina, Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, Rich Mullins (I'm not Christian but some Christian music is amazing), ), The Raventones/T.R. Kelley, Planet P Project/Tony Carey, Sinead Lohan, Donna Williams, Suzanne Vega, Phideaux, and Jethro Tull, to name a few. I love the Cocteau Twins in particular because they are everything being sensing is about: Words are chosen for their sound, not their meaning, the voice becomes yet another instrument rather than a conveyor of words, raw emotion pours out of them, there are layers upon layers, and they were around for long enough there's lots of their music in a variety of different styles -- including their later stuff where the words have more meaning than just sounds. Each period in their music has its benefits and drawbacks but I love them all, or nearly so. Their music comes as close as any music can come to conveying how I experience the world, as what Donna Williams calls 'pattern, form, and feel'. And Elizabeth Fraser has a beautiful voice, I once had a teenage crush on her. As I type this, I have a cat sitting on my shoulder, cheek to cheek with me, peering around and occasionally rubbing me. My relationship to her goes back 15 years to when she was six months old, and we've rarely been parted since. It's been an honor to watch her grow into a wise but crotchety old lady cat. She knows she's technically older than me and tells me so sometimes, especially during arguments. She has trouble with the fact that there are parts of the human world I know better than she does. She sees me as her big, dumb kitten who needs protecting, and is beside herself with worry if I end up in the hospital (which seems to happen frequently these days). I don't experience myself as having a gender identity, I call it being genderless. You'll sometimes see the pronouns sie and hir in my work, they are gender-neutral pronouns pronounced 'see' and 'hear'. I was raised female, which gives me both disadvantages (outside the trans community) and advantages (inside the trans community). You don't have to remember my pronouns, lots of people have trouble with gender-neutral pronouns. I won't be upset with you. People make mistakes, and some people just can't get the hang of new words, and that's okay. I have vocabulary problems myself (mostly comprehension), I'm not going to penalize other people for having vocabulary problems of their own. Right now my father is dying of cancer that's metastatized so many places they can't figure out where it started, my mother has severe myasthenia gravis that can land her in the ICU (and she's my father's primary caretaker), my "second mother" (who took over when I grew up and my family didn't know how to prepare me for the world) has endometrial cancer, and my cat is getting old. All of this is bringing death to the forefront of my mind and my poetry. In fact I think I've been able to write more poetry because of all the feelings about so many people dying or with precarious health. It was easier to handle when it was me that was going to die (averted by diagnosis and treatment of severe adrenal insufficiency that'd been going on for years). It's harder when it's someone else, someone you love. My other hobby is crocheting, and a lot of the time if I'm not writing, it'll be hard to find me without a crochet hook or occasional knitting needles in my hands. I love to be able to make things. I have been making hats and scarves with spare yarn (which I have a lot of), and putting them in City Hall Park wrapped in plastic, with notes saying "If you're cold, take this." I know what it's like to be cold in the winter, and if anyone takes them and stays warm I'd be overjoyed. You may have noticed I'm long-winded. This is actually the result of a language disability that makes it difficult for me to leave out details, to see two almost-identical things as perhaps something that doesn't need repeating, and to summarize or condense down my writing. I know this is a flaw in my writing, and it even prevents me from reading it sometimes, but I've found no solutions. Sometimes on my longer posts I'll put a "TL;DR" ("too long; didn''t read") summary at the end in bold letters for people to skip down to.. But even those don't feel adequate, even when I can do theme, which is not always. I think I'm getting better though. Learning haiku and other short poetry forms helps me condense my words better. Anyway, I hope that gives you enough idea of who I am. At my most basic, I care about Love more than anything (whenever I come near enough to death, I feel like I get asked the question "Did you Love, and did you express that Love properly?"), but like everyone I get sidetracked into things that are much less important. I try to make my writing an expression of Love. Sometimes I succeed.

20 responses »

  1. Thanks for posting this – what a sad story. I’ve seen my mom avoid going to the doctor, when she’s really needed to go, because she was afraid of being scolded about gaining a few pounds. I’m in the middle of reading the book “Big Fat Lies” by Glenn Gaesser. People equate thinness with health, but that isn’t true.

  2. A lot of autistics seem to fall into the “fat as social sin” thing too, so I don’t think it’s a purely NT thing. I don’t get it either. (Nor do I get the “fat as ugly” thing.)

  3. I’ve never really thought much about fat-related issues — however, as a person who tends toward thinness as a result of genetics, I don’t generally think it my place to go around making assumptions about other people’s lifestyles based on their weight.

    I know people who eat less than I do, on average, and who weigh a lot more.

    And I know people who weigh far more than me but who exercise more as well — and yet, they’re more likely to get thought of as “lazy” than I am. It doesn’t make sense, and it certainly doesn’t justify medical neglect. I think that medicine when done right seeks to protect and save people’s lives first and foremost — even if someone’s condition IS exacerbated by their weight, that person still deserves the same care as anyone else. Sometimes I suspect that certain trends in health care aren’t really geared toward improving health care for all people, but rather, toward restricting health care to a fairly narrow range of persons who easily fit a standard model. People who fall outside that range due to weight, age (elderly people are often shortchanged and discriminated against as well), and disability are considered “too complicated” and more likely to be written off, unfortunately.

  4. People justify fatphobia by arguing that being overwieght is unhealthy. It usually is, but when was the last time somebody was ridiculed or made to feel ashamed and defective and unsexy for being a smoker? Or for working too many hours a week? Or for not wearing sunscreen?

  5. I know people who eat less than I do, on average, and who weigh a lot more.

    I have a friend who’s 95 pounds. I’m 195 pounds. Another friend is over 300 pounds.

    How much we actually eat, on the other hand, tends to have been in the reverse order than most people would expect by looking at us.

    I think that medicine when done right seeks to protect and save people’s lives first and foremost — even if someone’s condition IS exacerbated by their weight, that person still deserves the same care as anyone else.

    Yeah. My mom told me some pulmonologists utterly refuse to treat smokers. That just… errrrgh. Wrong. Bad. Won’t cause someone to quit smoking just to see a pulmonologist who clearly devalues their life as long as they’re a smoker.

    What really gets to me in a more everyday sense, though, is being around the weight-obsessed segment of female culture. Even in people I otherwise like. The constant equating of “weight” and “health”, as well as extremely prying questions/accusations/orders about my dietary habits (usually by thin people, of course), is just toxic to be around.

    I’m not sure they’ll even figure out which health conditions are truly tied to being fat, until they get enough fat people to study who (a) aren’t yo-yo dieters (weight fluctuation causes many of the same health problems fat is currently said to exacerbate) (b) aren’t terrified of and/or otherwise prevented from seeking proper medical care, and (c) aren’t barred from proper medical care by discriminatory medical practices.

    I’ve actually had medical personnel start yelling at me for being fat before — not even based on the flimsy excuse of “health considerations,” but because it’d take more than one person to lift me (this was usually during severe health crises where I was too weak to move). That particular form of grumble of “your body is just an annoying inconvenience to me” is one of the most toxic out there (and also encountered during a lot of other situations, the fat stuff is just coming to mind now because of the subject matter).

  6. I’ve actually had medical personnel start yelling at me for being fat before — not even based on the flimsy excuse of “health considerations,” but because it’d take more than one person to lift me

    I wonder to what extent issues of gender and different types of size (both height and weight) are in play here. I’m a tall-ish man, and – short of malnourishment – don’t think lifting me would ever be a one-person job (at least, when I was a care assistant, I don’t think I’d have wanted to lift someone my own weight single-handed). Also, while I don’t carry that much fat around, I do a fair bit of exercise and in part as a result am a fair bit heavier than ‘necessary’ – I could lose say 10kg and be a healthy weight.

    The fact that I’m bigger and heavier than many other people just because of my height and gender, and that even so I’m bigger and heavier than I ‘need’ to be due to the ‘extra’ weight I’m carrying, doesn’t seem to be seen as an issue in the same way as it is if someone’s carrying around a similar amount of ‘extra’ fat…

  7. I cried and cried after reading the links.The mom in the story is so much like me. I am fat, have had DVTs in my leg, and been treated misrerably by my own mom for being fat and by doctors who didn’t want to see me let alone treat me. I finally suffered a second DVT and found a wonderful specialist who assured me my clots were not caused by my being overweight, but by an inherited blood disorder that I got from my thin mom. I have been made fun of, treated like crap and dismissed because I am overweight. It is so hard. I try not to think about it too often, as it is very painful.

  8. I have gall bladder disease and “gout” and a variety of other “g” diseases all starting with “gastro” and often ending in “itis”…

    Well, I’m now starting to see a pattern here. If a doctor can blame a disease on fat/poor lifestyle choices (despite the fact I go to a fitness club 3-5x a week and eat mostly vegetables and am still fat due to hypothyroid), they can deny benefits to a patient. The insurance company will then want a documented 6 months *doctor* supervised diet program/exercise program. (literally?) and after that, they’ll disqualify it on some detail that wasn’t included in the documentation and all so insurancy companies and doctors can escape with the least liability and the maximum profit at the expense of the patient.

  9. I finally read the last article. I was shocked by some “stats” that I didn’t know. 80% genetic and 10,000 calories. I often feel like society is a death trap if you aren’t careful. I can understand now the main point of the series that it’s “Fat Hatred” and not “fat” itself that often kills…esp those who let others get away with that lazy excuse from their own ivory towers and pedestals. The best way to be healthy is to get rest, lower anxiety and if one gets that, then perhaps an enjoyable activity (not some gymn torture), ease of mind about eating, and not falling for that carbonated aspertame trick, not listening to any advise on the matter. Doing what you know is best for yourself and well-being. I don’t think someone can lose weight without well-being anyway. It has to start there and fat is in nature too. Whales have it, they live plenty long. So it’s not fat but really, it’s stress and anxeity from society and it’s nitpickiness and our work lives that do this combined with foods that are often horrid.

  10. It’s ridiculous to say that fat hatred is because fat is unhealthy, because people who are unhealthily thin are considered the ideal.
    In fact, the healthiest body weight is what most people seem to consider ‘somewhat chubby’.

  11. At one time I weighed 272 lbs. I currently weigh 172. I wasn’t “sinful” for weighing that much but it wasn’t good for my health. Considering my family history of diabetes (both sides) and my painful scoliosis, I know I made the right choice. But I’m not gonna go screaming “you’re fat go to hell.” I’ll also agree that when I was 272 often medical professionals would obsess over that instead of the health issue I was seeing them for.

  12. It would be easy to blame it on the crappy US health “system” but sadly it’s the same on the NHS (in the UK) too, in many places at least. Some are lucky but generally it seeems health professionals the world around sometimes almost look for excuses not to bother treating people… especially for people on the “spectrum” it gets difficult to communicate your needs against odds like that :(

  13. Body Mass Index (BMI) was pioneered in the 1830s by a Belgian astronomer who wanted to define “average man”. He believed that those who deviated from the average physically were more likely to be social deviants. The obese he reasoned had criminal or sociopathic tendencies: weight was an indicator of moral laxity.

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